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The Acceptable Sacrifice Before God

A painting by Mariotto Albertinelli, 16th c.

Understand the Symbolism of the Offerings Brought Forth by Two Brothers

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

~ Genesis 4:3-5; cf Moses 5:16-41 ~

The offering served as a symbol not only of the Savior but also of the offerer. It is obvious that the sacrificial animal was a type (foreshadowing or model) of the Lord, its unblemished perfection representing the purity of the Savior. Yet the symbolism does not stop there. The ritual focused on the individual’s need to be acceptable before God so he could benefit from the covenant. As he symbolically yielded his life to the Lord, he became a type of Christ. The Savior made of himself an acceptable offering through his mortal mercy and faith, through which reconciliation came (see Heb. 2:17 and Heb. 2:9). By likewise giving himself to God’s purposes, the Israelite was reconciled to God.

~ Richard D. Draper – Sacrifices and Offerings: Foreshadowing of Christ – September 1980 ~

In Word: Our journey through the Old Testament will reveal many symbolisms and foreshadowing that point us toward the nature, purpose, mission, and ministry of Jesus Christ. Yet nothing compares to the very rich and deep symbolism we find within the story of Cain and Abel’s sacrifice and offering before God. In Genesis, we simply find that Abel’s offering, and sacrifice was acceptable before God. However, Cain’s was not. In Moses 5:16-41, we come to understand the nature between the two sacrifices and offerings brought forth.

Abel’s was done in faithful obedience to the commandments of God. Cain, who despised and refused to acknowledge God, was tempted, and deceived by Satan in bringing forth an offering. The deep rich symbolism brings us back to the divine council of our premortal existence. In this council, our Heavenly Father was presented with two sacrifices and offerings (Moses 4:1-4). The plan of salvation was acceptable before God involved our moral agency to choose. Like Cain, Satan’s sacrifice and offering was not acceptable. This grieved and hardened him to the point of rebellion. Many followed Satan and were cast out. Likewise, Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable before the Lord and because of the hardness of Cain’s heart, he was full of anger.

In Deed: Our moral agency is precious. It provides us with the opportunity to choose for ourselves whether we are willing to hearken unto the voice of God, walk in faithful obedience, and submit ourselves over to the will of God. This is called living the law of sacrifice. The Savior instructed the Nephites that the law of sacrifice required a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:19-20). This broken heart is one of godly sorrow that leads us on the path of repentance. We also live the law of sacrifice when we are obedient in giving tithes and offerings unto God. All that he requires is a tenth of our income.

Like Abel, and those who walked in humble obedience, offering the firstlings of his flock – we are to offer unto our Heavenly Father the first fruits of our labor – or a tenth of our income. Service is another form of living the law of sacrifice. Being open and available to serve and minister as the Lord directs gives us blessings as we are a blessing unto others. And the law of sacrifice also calls for us to endure tribulation. Facing our trials and adversity with faithfulness, enduring to the end, persevering with faith and trust in Jesus Christ we shall find blessing and strength. This is contained in the very last beatitude of our Savior’s teaching: blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).

Take a Moment and Ponder: What does it mean for you today to live out the law of sacrifice? Where do you need to begin the process of repentance and seek forgiveness from our Heavenly Father? In what way has the adversary led you astray in living out the law of sacrifice? What blessings are open and available when you make a commitment toward bringing in tithes and offerings? What opportunities for service and ministry are available for you? How are you faithfully enduring through periods of adversity and trying circumstances? Seek the wisdom and counsel of our Heavenly Father through prayer. By living the law of sacrifice, you are faithfully serving God and shall be accepted unto Him.